The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Laptops would help with typing skills. The problem always seemed to be the poor wireless connections.
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For the Record: New Teacher Center grant
The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that a nearly $15 million Investing in Innovation grant will bring extra resources to the New Teacher Center’s mentoring programs for Chicago’s new teachers.
It’s not yet clear how many newcomers will be served, though. Throughout its time in Chicago, politics and leadership changes have gotten in the way of the program scaling up.
In 2009, then-CEO Ron Huberman expanded the Center to serve all the district’s first- and second-year teachers (which then numbered around 1,200).
But by fall 2010, amid budget problems and controversy over whether the district should be hiring new teachers during mass layoffs, the New Teacher Center’s programs shrank and were serving just one-tenth that number. Foundation money helped keep the program going until it finally secured a scaled-down contract in October of that year.
The following year, the program began to expand again, to 275 teachers. Plans were in place for the Center to once again serve all new teachers – now around 600 – this fall.
But, says senior vice president of induction programs Cynthia Brunswick, those plans were derailed by the strike and the recent CEO shakeup. “The circumstances of the strike just kind of threw everything a little bit off,” Brunswick says. “We are still trying to sort all of that out.”
So far this school year, the New Teacher Center has been able to offer about 130 teachers face-to-face mentoring. An additional 200 teachers will start online coaching in January. Depending on what the New Teacher Center can work out with CPS, even more new teachers may start later this year.
Under the federal Investing in Innovation grant, CPS and the New Teacher Center will receive planning money from January through June. After that, federal funds will cover teacher training, resources for mentor teachers, and professional development for principals. All together, the money will serve about 150 to 200 additional teachers.
CPS will share the money with Florida’s Broward County Public Schools and Iowa’s Grant Wood Area Education Agency, where New Teacher Center efforts are also underway.